Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Volume 20 Section VIII

Archaeologia Volume 20 Section VIII is in Archaeologia Volume 20.

First Battle of St Albans

An Account of the First Battle of St. Albans from a contemporary Manuscript. Communicated by Joun Baytey, Esq. F.S. A. of His Majesty's Record Office in the Tower; in a Letter to Henry Extis, Esq. F. R. S. Secretary.

Read 19th December 1822.

His Majesty's Record Office, December 12, 1822.


I inclose a curious Account of the first Battle of St. Albans, which may prove interesting to the Society of Antiquaries: it is copied from a manuscript, in a co-eval hand, found in the Tower, among a large quantity of private letters and accompts of Sir William Stonor, Knt [William Stonor (age 5)?] who, from his correspondence, appears at that time to have been much about the Court, and was also a Steward of the Abbot of St. Albans. The original is written in a book consisting of a few leaves of a small quarto size, and, on comparing the writing with some of the other papers, it seems to be in the hand of Sir William himself.

I remain, dear Sir, your's very faithfully,


To Henry Ex is, Esq &c. &c. &c.


Be yt knowen & hadde in mynde, that the xxj. day of May the xxxiij. zere of the Regne of Kyng Herry the sext, Oure Sov'eyne lord Kyng toke his jurnay from Westmynst' toward Seynt Albones, and rested at Watford all nyght; And on the morwe, be tymes, he cam to Seynt Albones, and wyth him on his ptye, afsembled under his baner, the Duyke of Bockyngham, the Duke of Somersete, the Erle of Penbrok, the Erle of Northumburlond, the Erle of Devynsshyre, the Erle of Stafford, the Erle of Dorsete, the Erle of Wyltsshire, the lorde Clyfford, the lord Dudley, the lord Burneys, the lord Rose, wyth other dyverfse Knyghtes, Squyeres, and other gentilmen & yemen, to the Nounbr' of ij. M1 & moo. And upon the xxij. day of the seyde moneth above rehersed, afsembled the Duyk of Yorke, and wyth hym come yn companye the Erle of Salesbury, the Erle of Warrewyke, with diverse knyghtes & squyers unto thẽr ptye, into the ffelde called the Key ffeld, besyde seynt Albones. Fyrthermore oure seyde Sov'eyne lord the Kyng, heryng & knowyng of the seyde Dukes comyng wt other lordes afore seyde, pygth his baner at the plaee called Boslawe in Seynt Petrus strete, whych place was called, afore tyme past, Sandeforde; and cofiaundeth the warde & barrers to be kepte in stronge wyse. The for seyde Duyk of York abydyng in the ffeld aforeseyde ffrome vij. of the clokke in the morn tyl yt was al most x. without ony stroke smetoii on eyther ptye. The seyde Duke sende to the Kyng our sov'eyne lord, be the avyse of his councell, prayng & be sekyng hym to take him as his true man, and humble suget; and to cõfider and to tender at the rev'ence of Almyghty God, and in way of charite, the true entent of his comyng: to be good & gracyous sov'eyne lorde to his legemen, whech with al ther power & mygth wille be redy at alle tymes to leve and dye wt hym in his rigth. And to what thyng yt shoulde lyke his mageste ryall to cofiaunde hem yf yt be his Wortship kepyng right of the Croune, and wellffare of the londe: more over gracyous lord plese yt zour majeste ryall of zour grete goodnefse & ryghtwesnetse to enclyne zour wille to here & fele the ryghtwyse ptye of us zoure sugettes & legemen; ffyrst ptyng and besechyng to oure lord Jhc of his hye & myghty power to geve un to zou vertu & prudence; And that thorugh the medyacyon of the gloryous martyr seynt Alboii to geve zou very knowleche to knowe the entent of oure afsembleng at this tyme, ffor God that is hevene knoweth than oure entent is rightfull & true. And ther fore we p*y unto al myghty lord Jtic these wordes...Domine sis clipeus defenéénis fire.

Wherefore, gracyus lord, plese it your hyghe mageste to delyvere fsuch as we wole accuse, and they to have lyke as they have deserved & doii, and ze to be honorabled and worfshepyt as most ryghtffull kyng, and oure gov'nour; ffor & we shall now at this tyme be pmysed as afore this tyme ys not unknowen, of pmes broketi whech ful fayth fully hath ben pmysed, and there upon grete othes made. We wyll not now cefse for nooii fsuch pmyfse, surete, ne other, tyl we have hem whych hav deserved deth or elles we to dye ther fore. And to that ansuered the Kyng our sov'eyne lord, and seyde: I Kyng Herry charge & comaund that no maner psone of what degre, or state, or codicyon that ev'e he be, abyde not, but voyde the ffelde, and not be so hardy to make ony resystens ageyne me in myn owne Realme: ffor I fshall knowe what trayto' dar be so bolde to reyse apeputt in myn owne lond, where thorugh I am in grete desese & hevynesse: And by the feyth that I owe to seynt Edward and to the Corone of Inglond, I sshall destrye them ev'y moder sone, and they be hanged, & drawen, & quartered, that may be taken afterward: of them to have ensample to alle such traytours to be war to make ony such rysyng of peple wtinne my lond. And so trayto'ly to abyde her kyng and gov'nour, and tor a cdclusyon rather then they shall have ony lorde-her wt me at this tyme, I fshall this day for her sake, and in this quarrell, my sylff lyve or dye: Wych ansuere come to the Duke of Yorke, the wheche duke, by the avyce of the lordes of hys conceill, seyde unto tiem thise wordes: The Kyng our sov'eyne lord will not be reformed at our besechyng ne p*yer, ne wylle not understonde the entent that we be comen heder & afsembled fore and gadered at this tyme, but only ys full p*pose, and ther noon other wey. But that he wole w* all his power p'sue us, and yf ben taken to geve us a shameful deth, losyng our lyvelode & goodes, and our heyres fshamed for ev'e: and ther fore sythe yt wole be noon othere wyse, but that we shall ootterly dye, better yt ys for us to dye in the feld than cowardly to be put to a grete rebuke and afshamefful deth: more ov cOlederyng yn what pyle Inglonde stondes inne at thys owre. There fore ev'y man help to help power for the ryght there offe to redrefse the myscheff that now regneth and to quyte us lyke men in this querell. Preyng to tha* lord that ys kyng of glorye that regneth in the kyngdom celestyall to kepe us & save us this day in our right, and thorugh the helpe of his holy grace we may be made strong to wt stonde the grete abomynable & cruell malyse of them that p'pose fully to destrye us wt shameful deth. We ther fore, lord, prey to the to be oure confort & defender, seyng the word afore seyde, Domine sis clipeus defenGonis nostre. And whanne this was seyde the seyde Duke of Yorke, and the seyd Erle of Salesbury, and the Erle of Warrewyk, betwene xj. & xij. of the clocke at noon, the broke into the toii in thre diverfe places & severelle places of the fore seyd strete. The Kyng beyng then in the place of Edmond Westley hunderdere of the seyd toi of Seynt Albones, comaundeth to sle alle maner men of lordes, knygthtes, & squyeres & zemen that myght be taken of the for seyde Duk* of York. Thys don the fore seyde lord Clyfford kept strongly the barrers that the seyde Duke of York myght not in ony wise, w* all the power that he hadde, entre ne breke into the toti. The Erle of Warrewyk knowyng ther offe, toke and gadered his men to gedere and ferosly brake in by the gardeyne sydes, be tuene the signe of the Keye, and the sygne of the Chekkere in Holwell strete; and anoofi as they wer wyth inne the toot, sodeynly the blew up Trumpettes, and sette a cry w' alshout & a grete voyce, a Warrewe, a Warrewyk, a Warrewyk! and into that tyme the Duke of York mygth nev'e have entre into the toni; and they with strong hond kept yt and myghttyly faught to gedere, and anooii forth w* after the brekyng in, they sette on them manfully, and as of lordes of name were slayn, the lord Clyfford, the duke of Somersete, the Erle of Northhumberlond, fr Bartram Entuwyfselle, knynght; and of men of courte, Wyllyam Zouch, Jofin Batryaux, Raaff of Bapthorp, & hys sone, Wyllyam Corbyii, squyers; Witt Cotton, receyver of the Ducherye of Lancastf; Gylbert Starbrok, squyer; Malmer Pagentofi, William Botelore, yoman; Rog'e Mercroft, the Kyng's mefsanger; Halyii, the Kyng's porter; Raufe Wyllerby; and xxv. mo whych her names be not zet knowefi. And of hem that ben slayii ben beryed in Sent Albonos xlviii. And at this same tyme were hurt lordes of name; the Kyng our sov'eyne lord in the neck with an arrowe, the Duke of Bukingh*m wt an arrowe in the vysage, the lord of Dudle wt an arowe in the vysage, the lord of Stafford in the hond wt an arowe, the lord of Dorsette sore hurt that he myght not go, but he was caryede hom in a cart, and Wenlok knyght, in lyke wyse in a carte sore hurt; and other div'se knyghtes & squyers sore hurt. The Erle of Wyldfshyre, Thorp, & many other, flede & left her harneys behynde hé cowardly; and the substance of the Kyng* ptye were dytpoyled of hors & harneys. This dofi the seyde lordes, that ys to wote the Duke of Yorke, the Erle of Salesbury, the Erle of Warrewyk, come to the Kyng our sov'eyne lord, and on here knees be soughte hym of grace, and for yevenefse of that they hadde doon yn his p'sence: and be sought hym of hys heynefse to take hem as hys true legemen, seyng that they nev' attendyde hurt to his owne psone and ther fore [the] kyng oure sov'eyne lord toke hem to g*ce, and so desyred hem to cesse there peple and that there fshulde no more harme be doon; and they obeyde hys comiaundement, and lote make a cry on the kyng* name that al maner of peputt shulde cefse and not so hardy to stryke ony stoke more after the pclamacyoii of the Crye: & so cefsed the seyde Batayle. Deo gras. And onthe morwe the kyng & the seyde Duke w* other certeyii lordes come in to the Byshop* of London, & there kept resydens with joye and solempnyte; concludyng to holde the parlement at Londoii the ix day of July next comyng.